Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chestnut-cheeked Starlings nesting in Suncheon (big news!)

Chestnut-cheeked Starling Agropsar philippensis








  On May 6th I spotted a pair of Chestnut-cheeked Starlings that appeared to be nest-building in a metal telephone pole.  As I was on a moving bus at the time, I returned to the rural location on the 7th to investigate further.  What I found was on a more extensive scale than a single nesting pair.  Three pairs of Chestnut-cheeked Starlings, along with an additional female, were in the process of nesting in three adjacent telephone poles.  They were also engaged in a fierce but strangely civil battle for territorial dominance with both Tree Sparrows, and Azure-winged Magpies.
  The male and female starlings took turns bringing in nesting materials, catching flying insects in spectacular mid-air forays, and standing guard.  After a strange stand-off that saw three sparrows calmly lined up on the wires next to three starlings, the starlings conceded defeat at this one telephone pole, and flew down the line to the next available telephone pole.  The Tree Sparrows were then seen bringing food into the captured (liberated?) post-hole.  Two passing Azure-winged Magpies seemed to take exception to a pair of perched starlings, and made an aggressive and showy pass that failed to scare off the nesters.
  This record of Chestnut-cheeked Starlings attempting to nest is significant, as they have only bred in Korea perhaps once or twice previously.  I will keep tabs on this site closely, with hopes of seeing some fledglings soon.

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